Preparing Your Children for Cold and Flu Season

John M. Dabbs

Parenthood is one of life's greatest gifts, and burdens. Nobody wants to see their children sick. The time when children return to school and the weather starts to change is a challenge. As our children are in closer quarters with both other kids and adults, we need to prepare them to fend off colds. Viruses, like the flu or even the dreaded COVID-19, SARS, and other ailments area also a concern.

Boost your immunity

It's difficult for us to get our kids to eat everything we put before them at times. Yet we know a balanced diet is good for their growth development. It's also important to boost their natural immune system. Getting plenty of vitamin C, D, etc.. and minerals such as Zinc and Magnesium in proper doses, does magical things - or so it would seem.

The easiest way for us to make sure our children get the nutrients they need is to eat their fruits and vegetables. Colorful vegetables and fruits are a plus. They are visually stimulating and often invoke a palate response as well. Though it also doesn't hurt to have your children take a multi-vitamin (age-based) every day.

Grooming them for proper growth, by providing appropriate nutrition, is paramount for their individual success. Not only does it keep them well centered, and thinking less about what they might eat, it helps their bodies and minds develop the way they should.

Grooming for health

I'm sure you've not considered this, but grooming habits are related to a healthy lifestyle. Each morning a child should brush their teeth with toothpaste (a dentist told me it doesn't matter what type of toothpaste, as the paste just makes the act of brushing more pleasant). They need to use the bathroom as needed and wash their hands, and then their face. It should become a ritual for them in some form or fashion.

The important part is to wash their hands and face (in that order), after using the bathroom. The other two can be done in any order around the morning routine, as long as they are done. I personally use the bathroom, wash my face and hands, then brush my teeth, take my medicines, shave, shower, and eat breakfast - but that's me. I know I should brush after I eat, but it gets done.

Your children should learn the importance of keeping their nails trimmed and washing their hands frequently throughout the day. They needn't use anti-bacterial soap. Recent studies have proven regular soaps to be just as effective, without impacting the bodies bacterial fighting abilities.

Other eating habits

Healthy habits also involve not eating or drinking after others. Sharing fries is one thing, sharing the same french-fry that's been bitten on is not. Cut things in half for sharing, or break things apart. Foods and beverages should not touch different peoples mouths where children are concerned. The habit of eating or drinking after someone can spread germs and illness.

The dip

The same goes for dipping. No double-dipping into a community sauce. What does that mean? It means one dip per chip. If you eat off of a chip, fry, or vegetable after dipping it into a sauce/dressing/dip... don't dip the same peice you've just bitten on back into a sauce shared by others. If it's just yours, feel free. If others are sharing, no double dipping.

Good hydrations

Drink to your success! Make sure your children are properly hydrated. They should drink plenty of water each day, supplement their water intake with teas, juices, milk, and other beverages as needed. It's important they consume as much water as they can. You should monitor their intake of sugary beverages. Too much juice, soft drinks, or sweetened tea isn't good for any of us.

I'm not saying you should avoid sugary beverages and sodas. I am saying your primary beverage, being over 50% of your liquid intake daily, should be plain water. This is especially important for children. We do want them to drink milk and juice, and enjoy hot beverages like cocoa or tea... all in moderation.

These are habits that can serve your children throughout their lives. They can grow to be happy and healthy adults.


You will see a growth-spurt take place in your child's life at times. Don't be alarmed when their appetites change and they want larger portions of something, and less of something else. During growth spurts their bodies will often tell them what they need for their growth spurt. The messages do not come literally, but they come to them in the form of cravings.

You've undoubtedly seen something similar happen with pregnant mothers. They get cravings. It is their bodies telling them what they need in order to get the nutrients needed for development. Don't sweat it. Just remember to try to keep every other type of food going in as well.

I hope you've enjoyed these tips and thoughts from a healthcare professional, who is also a parent.

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN

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